Event offers boost for reading

?I grew up loving books. In today?s digital world, it?s more important than ever to know how it feels to have a good book in your hands. I?m thrilled to be part of World Book Night. People who read are people who dream, and we connect through the stories we live and tell and read.? ?Amy Poehler

The first book I remember reading was called ?Bread and Jam for Frances.? I don?t remember anything I may have read before that, but I know my name was on that pull out checkout card at my elementary library.

For me, this was the book. The book that burrowed images into my second-grade brain that I can still see more than 30 years later. The light blue cover with a bright pink jam jar, the little songs she sang about her slimy eggs and the tears coming down her face when she realizes her magnificent dream of having her favorite bread and jam at every meal isn?t what she thought it would be.

To the most recent, ?The Dog Stars? by Peter Heller. I?m about half way in to this one that is set in a futuristic world wiped out after flu pandemic. Not my normal choice. But there are different reasons for reading different books. Some fall into my lap like ?Frances.? Some, like ?The Dog Stars,? I?m moved to read for other reasons. And this time it?s for an event that captures exactly what I want to be a part of and does it on a huge scale, book by book: World Book Night.

The name gives the gist of the event, but the guts are in the numbers: 500,000 books, 25,000 givers, 6,000 cities, one night. Each giver picks up 20 free copies of a single book (selected from a yearly master list) from a bookstore participant.

On April 23 (Shake?s?peare?s birthday), givers hand out those copies to people in their communities, with the goal of finding people who either don?t currently read (much) and/or don?t have the means or opportunity to buy their own books.

I randomly chose ?The Dog Stars? because I liked the cover. I guess I broke a rule there. Having no idea about it, I just took a chance and if my application was selected as one of this year?s givers, that?s the book I would share.

It was. And so I will.

Now I?m open to suggestions for recipients. Just email me at the address below because I?d love some help finding deserving people.

I?m also open to ideas on convincing non-readers to join us on this side. What is a good approach? Not all books touch a nerve. But the thing is, eventually, if they stick it out, one will. I?ve read enough to know that there?s a fine line between sticking with a book that starts out slow or that you don?t agree with for whatever reason verses sticking with a book that makes even your hair hurt from bad writing or cut and paste phrases. There are way too many books in circulation to waste time on a bad one.

Some will say, ?I?m too busy to read.? Considering how much time goes to TV, Facebook, Pinterest and the Internet in general, I take that with a grain of salt.

I can combat that with another perspective. I read because I get busy, too. I read to unwind. I read to escape. I read to learn. I read to feel. I read to motivate. I read to create. I read to grow. I read to teach. I read to understand. I read to relax.

And I read to build a cushion around my brain. A protective layer that shields me from, oh?say, Kanye West quotes: ?Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed. I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book?s autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books.?

Novels?wordy. He got us there. My hair hurts.

Send comments or questions on this column to shelley@?hillsborofreepress.com.

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